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Windows Azure Dance Routine (geekwire.com)
96 points by villagefool 1542 days ago | hide | past | web | 76 comments | favorite

I dunno, I'm sure for some people there's a great crime against women hidden in there somewhere, but all I see is a great crime against good taste. I think something has to pass a certain muster of sophistication before it can be genuinely offensive. This isn't the doctrine of coverture, it's a penis scrawled near the entrance to the ladies' room.

What I really want to know is, is it so hard to get decent entertainment for a developer event? There must be a lot of performers and artists out there willing to provide a more interesting experience than "girls dancing to loud music". I don't think I've ever been to a developer event with a jazz band, or magicians, or a contortionist with "XSLT" stenciled on their leotard. Now that'd be worth watching.

One last note, did "I'm a software developer, I'm developing for the rest of my life" creep anyone else right the hell out?

Just to clarify: That atrocity wasn't organised by the conference, they'd just agreed to give Microsoft (their biggest sponsor) the stage for a bit to do their big Azure announcement. There's certainly a lesson for conference organisers in there about how much you let your sponsors get involved in the conference, but what happened on stage was still all Microsoft's fault.

Also just to clarify: As a woman who was actually present in the room when Microsoft decided to jump the shark, I don't feel especially offended by this (with the exception of the line about Lea Verou, which is beyond creepy). As a developer, though, I'm deeply offended that someone in Microsoft's marketing department could imagine we'd go for this kind of trash. That performance speaks volumes about the developer stereotypes sales people nurture, and that is especially offensive coming from a company like Microsoft, where you'd think company culture should perhaps lean a little more towards respecting the people who create the actual value the company thrives on.

Thank you for speaking up. Just as it's crucial that women not be silent when being excluded from tech, it's just as (if not more) imperative we hear that you're not feeling discriminated against. Especially when there is a rallying cry from men saying that you should be, or that we should hold Microsoft responsible for this great sexist faux pas.

This community is overcorrecting in a bad way and starting to identify sexism where it isn't. Usually, women don't correct this assumption. Please keep doing so. I hate that the definition of the word "sexist" is starting to evolve to mean "offensive".

Oh, don't get me wrong, there was a fair bit of sexism in that performance, in the sense that whoever wrote it clearly has a very specific idea of what his audience is like: socially inept males. You know, developers. I was just too busy being offended as a developer being faced with proof of what sales people think of us to consider being offended as a woman, but the sexism is definitely there and should be addressed.

Some of the details I've heard described as sexist, though - like how the dancers are apparently "scantily clad" - seem to be more the result of mob rage than any form of rational thought.

I hate that the definition of the word "sexist" is starting to evolve to mean "offensive"

Sexism is always offensive.

Yes, but not all offensiveness is sexism. This, for example, offends me as a software developer, and as someone who appreciates the effort the real guys developing Azure are putting in to supporting node. I, however, do not get the sense of being discriminated against based upon my gender. All the women I know who've seen this video think it's incredibly lame, but not particularly sexist.

I do agree :-) but IMO, the video was sexist. The point being made by jsprinkles is that all forms of offensiveness appear to being called "sexist" - he said "I hate that the definition of the word 'sexist' is starting to evolve to mean 'offensive'." which is what I'm responding to!

A bit OT, but we had a jazz band for our reception at indieconf last year, and it went over better than going cross-town to a nightclub. The jazz trio had an ipad propped up with their contact info - that was about as techie as it got. I don't think they'd have worn anything with XSLT on it, but I can check with them again for this year :)

I wonder if those playing the "it's cheesy but c'mon, it's not offensive" line have missed the 20+ discussions about sexism and how to foster a healthy environment for women in tech on HN over the last year.

The assumption that developers are men is enough here, and speakers at the conference mentioned in the song have expressed surprise and distaste at their inclusion. For example, they say "Lea Verou will make your dreams come true" to which Lea noted: "I think mine tops all of them in terms of cheesiness and creepiness."

As much as it's tacky fun (much like that hack day note about having women serving beer [1] or the woman in her underwear promoting geek t-shirts [2]), it's also antagonistic, creepy, objectifies women, and reinforces an image that no-one wants or needs at a programming conference if we want to appeal to a diverse audience. Sadly, people who brush this off as OK are part of the problem but will deny this until, well, they sober up later on (said as someone who felt the issue was unimportant a couple of years ago).

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3731229

[2]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3739913

I fail to see the creepyness/offensive factor of the "Lea Verou will make your dreams come true" line (even if thats what she personally felt)

I took it to mean "programming" dreams. Whatever anyone else did with that in their own mind is their problem. Is there some missing context I'm missing? Just because the other parts of the song sorta mentioned penises, vaginas and drugs, that means they MUST be talking about sex in reference to Lea? I didnt make that connection.

I'd say those parts were much more offensive than the Lea Verou line. I had no idea who Lea Verou was before this, but now I have another great female tech role model to follow.

Overall this was extremely distasteful, and I think microsoft with all their money could provide much better entertainment

But who's to say whats popular in Norway? I certainly don't know what their social norms are. But I also dont know how this conference was marketed. Was it truly a regional event?

There is a problem with sexism in the software development community that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. The Lea Verou line was incredibly creepy and inappropriate, and some of the other lyrics were also ill considered.

But the dancing itself, or the idea of women(? I think there may have been some men, couldn't tell) dancers at a development conference does not make me feel objectified. The dancers were not dressed inappropriately (long sleeves and shorts? I could probably wear that at work let alone a nightclub), and the dancing was not suggestive (especially in contrast to normal club dancing). I thought the dancing was fine.

"Sexism" and "creepiness" are not synonyms of each other.

I'm not clear on what distinction you're actually trying to draw here.

The objectification of women (and creepy behavior as an extension of that) is inherently alienating and in almost all circumstances is sexist (just by virtue of the fact that there's not a lot of folks out there creeping both women and men)

At the very least the two sets overlap heavily even if they are not synonymous.

I am an atheist, which I know generally offends people, and some people think I deserve to die for that.

Meaning I can't give a shit if some people get offended. If females don't show up, that is their choice.

You being an atheist really has nothing to do with this. Being offended at how women are objectified/marginalized in the tech industry and being offended at someone's personal religious choice are two completely different things.

Also, it's "women", not "females".

I prefer reserving the term women for actual people and females for aggregrate groups. Makes it easier to keep the two separated.

Women showing up to tech conferences are actual people.

Sure and and it makes sense to call Amy from the Python conference in '12 a woman. She is an individual with feelings, hopes and dreams.

But if you want to discuss this issue, you have to do it in aggregate, concerning youself with the average person and what problems she statistically has. Then it makes sense to say female. She isn't a real person, just like no person actually has 2,3 kids.

Probably will get downvoted for this, but I didn't really think this was as vile as apparently everybody else does. Sure it's a bit cheesy and stupid, but the dancers seem to be wearing shorts and a full shirt (essentially standard dance attire) and not doing anything particularly suggestive. As to the lyrics, again stupid attempts at humor but not any worse than what you might see on an evening TV sitcom. Maybe I am just old..

Pretty much a non-event/non-issue for me.

It looks like a regional thing (half the world away), from a subsidiary, and was not signed off by Redmond.

People will always interject themselves into things like this, making something out of nothing, tweeting and posting about how outraged they are.

When Microsoft is involved, the narrative is to always play the victim being oppressed by a giant.

I've see worse things than this on family tv stations during the daytime.

To me this is just a dumb two or three minute skit in a 3 hour event, that will get someone fired.

That's forgetting context. On a sitcom, sure. What if it were at a funeral or as part of a job interview? It's similarly inappropriate at a programmers' conference where we should be avoiding activities and messages that reinforce male privilege. Don't believe me, believe women who have responded about it, e.g. https://twitter.com/serendipitousP/status/211470656242589698

> What if it were at a funeral

Ask and ye shall receive.

Strippers and other scantily clad dancers are not unheard of at country-side funerals in Taiwan.



When I first came across this phenomenon years ago, I managed to find a thread on a mailing list (I think it was for East Asian studies) that included personal reports from researchers as well as some interesting suggestions about why they might do this. The consensus seemed to be that this was akin to how the Taiwanese might sacrifice a pack of the deceased's favorite cigarettes or a bottle of his favorite liquor at his funeral.

Such dance shows are also offered up as tribute to the deities at temple festivals. As bizarre as that is, I can't help but be amused by the thought of their gods appreciating a flagrant display of T&A. It sure turns the Hermetic motto "As above, so below" on its head, doesn't it?

> as part of a job interview

Taking a male job candidate to a strip club isn't unheard of in the US. In South Korea (and I presume other parts of East Asia), it's commonplace to go to hostess bars on the monthly hwaeshik outing with coworkers; sometimes they will continue the night at straight-up prostitution joints for sam cha. I wouldn't be surprised if job interviews were often conducted similarly to entice candidates. I know for a fact that Korean salespeople often seal deals by taking customers out for "entertainment".

To be clear, I'm not condoning any of these practices, just saying they're out there and probably more commonplace than you realize.

The Twitter poster you mentioned says the main issue is that Microsoft assumed all developers are men. Which they didn't.

She also says the shorts are skimpy. Watch the video and see if you agree.

Finally people who tell me about my life based upon my gender with terms like 'male privilege' are themselves being sexist and rude.

it's not the things they did or any particular word or formulation that ticks me off. It's the sentiment and (if it succeeds) the baseline of emotions it seeds for that event or evening.

Now we can all say that everyone needs to grow thicker skin or something, but in the end it's simply bad taste to alienate significant parts of the crowd. That being said, if I would have been there, I would have been more embarrassed at the stereotype they apparently decided to appeal to than offended, because it was so over the top stupid.


I wouldn't downvote and I probably would have a laugh with my kid sister at how inept MS is.

However I do have concerns for young girls who are interested in programming and technology and believe this is how women are perceived in this field. This is especially true of those who don't have a sound parental foundation or looking to define themselves.

I think female peer pressure and the fear of ostracization for getting outed as a geek is a much bigger deterrent to women entering the IT field than some silly jokes that a mature adult sure can deal with.

Does anyone else think it odd that being a software developer automatically means you're a "geek"? I never thought of myself that way, still don't, and am surprised that a career choice automatically confers such an odd label. It makes no sense.

Where is the goddamned outrage? Stop being such a member of the intelligentsia and get angry.

I had to rage-stop this video halfway through... this is ridiculous.

In this day and age, I would have thought that the developer community has come to realize that sexism is out and inclusiveness is in (no, adding a "(and vaginas)" is not inclusive). We had our fun, but it significantly damaged our culture and firmly planted our female participation at 15-20%, with a female OSS contribution rate of 1.5-5%. We (I'm speaking to the straight, white males out there) are the main reason for this.

And it's not just females, either. Our frequent raunchy behavior typically focuses on heteronormative jokes, staying completely ignorant and offensive to the LGBTQ folks out there.

So here's the deal, Microsoft: you have some work to do. First, you do something about this, like fire the decision-makers involved (publicly or privately, your choice). Next, issue a real apology that goes well beyond "we're looking into this." Then, grab a crapton of money—say $3 million... $1 million for each minute of the song—and donate it to programmer-centric inclusive groups. Speaking as primarily a Rails dev, my brainstorming is biased, but here's a good list to get started: Rails Bridge, Girl Develop It, DevChix, etc. Make certain that there's no way to tie this large donation to furthering Microsoft-specific causes; you need to heal dev community at large that you just brutally damaged.

I understand this "skit" probably didn't come from Redmond, but that's the price you pay for growing to the size of Microsoft. Microsoft Redmond hired/approved the folks running the branch that did this skit. Letting Redmond skate by on this is like (and wow, I'm going to use a totally unfair comparison here... apologies) letting a mob boss off the hook because a lieutenant actually planned & performed a criminal act.

What a depressing state of affairs.

> I would have thought that the developer community has come to realize that sexism is out

I was there to see how it worked out. The developer community reacted negatively to this.

During the show, a lot of people backed away to hide in the corners of the conference room. There was loud boo-ing throughout and after the dance. Critical tweets were being tweeted and retweeted.

The community is OK. Microsoft's marketing department are tasteless hamfisted twats.

Some of their earlier Cloud marketing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q1UgUw-4AY

I hear no loud boos "throughout" the routine. I do hear laughter. I see people crowded up to the stage, not "hiding in corners". There are some possible boos after the routine, mixed in with applause.

And what's clueless about that Cloud ad? That's an extremely mainstream corporate ad.

You can't form opinions on that by watching a video filmed 5 meters from the stage, right inbetween the relatively very few (and mostly drunk - there had been free beer for the past 3 hours) people who seemed to appreciate the show.

The conference hall was huge. Some 30-50 meters away where I was standing, the boo-ing was quite audible, and you could see most of the attendees staying the hell away from the stage.

Sorry, I wasn't lambasting the community at large... I was directing my anger at the fact that Microsoft is insulated enough from the dev community that they haven't picked up on this.

Yes. Even knowing Microsoft's general marketing clumsiness, it's very impressive how out of touch they can manage to be.

Also, when they were referencing the speakers, "Lea Verou will make your dreams come true" might have looked good on paper, but in this context it was just unbearably creepy. Totally agree they need to donate some millions to inclusive causes to make up for this.

> I was directing my anger at the fact that Microsoft is insulated enough from the dev community that they haven't picked up on this.

How so? Not only were they not involved in this directly, they've posted their apology already and will take proper steps to make sure that even the smallest of parts in the smallest of regional events now have to get signed off on.

Yes, this wasn't offensive to non-male-heteros - it was just offensive. Yet I have to say I'm still laughing and it being completely over the top lends it a certain element of 'this is too ridiculous to be considered a serious attempt to empower the hegemony'. It's bad taste in general, rather than offensive to any one party.

I've been trying to count the offenses...to men, women, developers, drug users, anti-drug activists, lyricists, grammarians, hermaphrodites, crypto folks, choreographers, markup mavens...it's almost, dare I say it? "Genious" Art.

It's absolutely so bad that I can't even manage to be outraged by it, because it brings me to tears in laughter even just thinking about it, it's such a perfect nugget of awful.

I was actually legitimately outraged by this yesterday:


(Follow-up here: http://oomscholasticblog.com/2012/06/scholastic-responds-to-...)

Wow, that is beautifully offensive. I hope the editor who approved those gets appropriately reprimanded/fired.

Yeah, I feel like it's one thing to offend us, we're adults. It's a little too late and at the very least, we can harangue someone or something or punch 'em in the gulliver and effect a (little) change. But kids? An entirely different thing.

I grew up in the 80s, feeling that I could do anything and be anyone I wanted to be. A scientist or a singer? I was going to be both! Also, a writer! I feel really blessed by that; but my biggest worry looking around at TV and toys and games lately is that everything's so horrifically A/B tested that any kid who feels other (due to gender, race, or other differences) is marginalized and subtly given that "you can't" message.

I don't have the data, but it really feels like we're in retrograde (like what's up with the "So simple your Mom can use it" crap? My Mom ran an ISP in the early 90s & she's an XML nerd, simple is just going to turn her off...my Grandma was on AIM before most of my friends). I'm hoping there's something we can do to stop this cruddy discouragement--we really need everyone firing on all cylinders and diversity only strengthens us.

>A scientist or a singer? I was going to be both! Also, a writer!

I still feel that way - I don't think we have to chain ourselves to being 'one thing'. Teaching this to girls when they are young, especially, to hold on to all their dreams is really important so they don't give up on living full lives outside of the job/keyboard.

I find it especially offensive to women and feminists in the developer community.

People watching it and saying, "OMG what a crap song, and such old-school dance moves. Don't they know developers are too cool for this?", as if that is what the problem is, just show how big the real problem is.

Watching this (as a woman) I actually felt more embarrassed for my male colleague sitting here with me - he knew how stupid and misogynist it is. If anything I was rather impressed they thought it so considerate to add 'vagina' to what was an already absurd line.

FWIW, there was a lot of internal outrage over this yesterday. I even saw a public message to marketing asking them to please put a stop to any other items like this that were planned.

I was just at the Berlin Buzzwords conference last week. Microsoft Azure was a platinum sponsor, and hired two 20-something girls dressed in skin-tight silver jumpsuits. They walked around handing out bags of Gummy Bears with flyers for Azure. Nobody was impressed, and the whole idea as kind of ridiculous. Given the level of maturity at that conference, it was completely out of place. It does not surprise me there was nearly zero activity at their conference booth.

I had the same feeling at the BBuzz. I like gummy bears and all, but this is not how you win over developers. Nobody was paying any attention to those women and nobody was paying any attention to Azure.

I'm hopeful that sexism will eventually fade out in the community.

Microsoft, GoDaddy and others, please find another way to advertise your products.

Those taking offense are on too much of a hair-trigger.

Take it in context:

• This is in Norway, a very gender-egalitarian place (but also more open to sexual topics). They have the confidence to understand – and shrug off – things that are meant as goofy jokes, even if, when forwarded to a different context for the specific purpose of triggering a reaction, some can then find offense.

• The music is definitely in the style of the (big-in-northern-Europe) band 'Scooter'. (A commenter at Geeklist implies it is Scooter, I think it's just in their style.) That style is over-the-top, self-parodying. (See for example the music video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KL5bw6Mbho which mixes the lyrics of a campy 1979 european disco hit, acid-trip religious imagery, topless revelers, rapper braggadocio, a cryptic shout-out to art/music-pranksters The KLF, and a key quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. Yes, The Little Prince!) No one familiar with the style would take any word of it more seriously than a Stephen Colbert monologue. (When Colbert in character says something 'offensive', is it really 'offensive'?)

• Even so, I've watched it twice and can't find any implication that all developers are male. The lead voice in the song is male (and speaks the 'penis' line about himself) but the chorus auto-tuned voice is vaguely feminine and the dancers seem to represent 'developers' and are (mostly?) women.

• It's in a nightclub/danceclub, kicking off the conference party. Almost certainly alcohol was being served. Topics wander a bit from the button-downed professional voice at such events... in fact that's the very reason to have such events. Crude jokes about body parts aren't for everyone, but they are likely to come up in nightclubs and in spoofy music lyrics. If they're not specifically denigrating anyone they're harmless and non-exclusionary.

My initial reaction when hearing the soundtrack (I was a conference attendee) was to walk over to the stage to see if that was really Scooter playing. The lyrics just didn't seem nearly as offensive as most people apparently find them in light of this clearly being either the actual Scooter or someone copying them - I'm assuming the latter, because the lyrics seem a bit too juvenile even for Scooter, but knowing the band and their typical over-the-top raver campiness certainly mitigated the offensiveness of the incident. It was still fantastically embarrasing to watch, but I didn't feel especially offended as a woman at a tech conference.

The stage, btw, was in the middle of the conference venue, and this performance kicked off the conference party, just after the talks had finished for the day. The atmosphere in the room as it was happening was mostly one of embarrassed disbelief that Microsoft's PR department had apparently stereotyped the lot of us as tasteless brogrammers - with the exception of a few already drunk brogrammers clearly enjoying themselves in front of the stage.

Stunts like this must take a lot of people and a lot of time to set up. Here's my question: could someone explain exactly how this kind of stuff moves from idea to execution to performance without anyone raising an enormous red flag?

if the someone with the idea has enough pull, (s)he probably simply shuts down any red flags with "it was my idea, do it now!"

Who are we kidding? It was definitely a 'he'.

This reminds me of...Japanese karaoke. I feel sorry for Microsoft that this is going to be syndicated everywhere to the detriment of Azure, but it's probably funny in Norway. Is anyone on HN offended by this?

Not I, but then again, I'm almost impossible to offend. This just seemed more silly and out of place than anything else.

The 'zOMG SEXISM' drum is getting beaten especially hard recently.

This video just shows how necessary it is to beat that drum.

You can't beat the drum about social issues and culture.

You can beat the drum about something people don't know, a food drive, a political issue, etc but it makes no sense to keep whingin about something that people already know and have made up their minds about.

Remember House? People don't change.

>People don't change.

Sure they do. Last century it was okay to oppress women and blacks (and even keep the latter as slaves). Times, and people, can change radically.

That said, aside from mentioning the word "penis" in a frankly stupid song, I fail to see how this is sexist. The term is going to lose all meaning if it keeps getting bandied about by such minutiae like this and the beer thing at the California convention.

If you say so. There are more and greater issues to this video than mentioning a penis.

What's great is imagining yourself as the guy who has to come on and speak after such a glamorous intro.

I'd love to hear more about the awkward moment that ensued when the rep got on stage and started talking, if he tried to play it off like that whole thing didn't just happen.

So, this is the second story in about a month about crazy sexist stuff going on at industry events in Scandinavia. The Dell thing I thought was beyond the pale; but this seems to be in good fun.

What's up with Scandinavia?

This was Microsoft, not Scandinavia. Noone was impressed by what they did. Apart from this, it was a great conference.

It was most likely a scandinavian subsidiary of Microsoft.

As a Dane I would guess were are just less concerned with PC shit. And the general culture does not go ape-shit just because a nipple is visible.

Well, I'm from Sweden and it's in just as poor taste over here. I suppose someone must've been looking for the cheapest dance/song-group available.

This truly is the new dancemonkeyboy.mpeg.

Perhaps it's just me, but I'm a bit put-off whenever anyone references genitalia in a public setting. Whether there's dancing involved or not is somewhat immaterial.

I didn't take it as 'sexist' so much just 'wrong'. Perhaps things are just that different in Norway? I suspect not.

If we exclude cultural differences, I think the most cringeworthy thing about this is its total misapprehension of the target audience. Of course, this includes assuming the entire crowd is male and loves nob gags; but if I was to have live music on for a bunch of developers, that is the last thing I would think of.

Enduring that travesty would be totally analogous to hitting up one of the UK's many tacky nightclubs that host an 'electro-house' (read: trance) night every Friday and have the same monotonic 'MC' drawling all over the track.

Maybe it's fine in Norway and they love that sort of thing, but I think it'd be very difficult to reconcile the developer and trance scenes elsewhere.

I'm actually bothered by the obvious ripoff of GLaDOS. I guess I just really like that character and the intelligent creativity that went behind it. This is like going Weird Al on Valve without realizing it.

I don't think it's styled after GLaDOS, there's a few genres of music that include a high pitched voice like that. I would suggest that this song is actually just a happy hardcore song with new lyrics, listen to the band Scooter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooter_(band)) and you'll see the similarities in the majority of their songs. The songs normally feature an announcement (with the "distant" sound) and then a high pitched voice.

I'm Lonely - Scooter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYTTSIvePSY

Think about this for a moment.

In some Microsoft Office, they must have had a meeting, went through the plan and said: "Yes, this is a good idea. This will get people interested in Azure. This is awesome".

I'm just glad that we have Scott Guthrie in the keynote video at http://www.meetwindowsazure.com/ instead of some of these girls.

Developers, developers, developers, developers? PARTY PEOPLE IN THE HOUSE!

lol. Morale of the story: do some research first!

    Sub dance(yourRightFoot)
    End Sub


In this day and age of ubiquitous cameraphones and Youtube, nobody is allowed to have fun or be brutally honest anymore. Too much risk of being recorded and then quoted out of context or scrutinized by Puritans.

What are they brutally honest about? That women aren't welcome in the IT community? And what kind of context are we missing here?

I promise you that it looked even worse in context.

That's not burtally honest. It's just plain juvenile.

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